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Changing lives is at the heart of our organisation. It's ultimately what all our projects work towards and what motivates Groundwork staff and volunteers. Read about some of the many people who have benefitted from Groundwork:

Liz's Story

"Working with Groundwork BBOR has been an exceptionally rewarding experience. Being able to support the trust in moving forward and learning about some of the people and the programmes they work with has been humbling. The staff have been so supportive in helping me and, without doubt, this has led to the internship I know have with one of the biggest advertising agencies in Manchester. Thank you so much to everyone!


 After re-training to be a copywriter following a career in teaching, Liz contacted Groundwork BBOR regarding a volunteer position in Communications and Marketing. Immediately the trust were on board with the idea of putting together a plan to support Liz in building new skills and gaining experience in the IT and marketing areas where she lacked experience.


The Learning Journey

 In January 2016, Liz hit the ground running, working on the Business Plan for the coming year. Using information from a variety of sources, it was easy for her to learn quickly about the work that Groundwork BBOR did in the local community and borough-wide.

 “Working on the Business Plan was a behemoth task and I was a little apprehensive of the trust being put into me, and the success of collating the information and writing it up. It gave me confidence in my ability and I learnt more about my weaknesses and how to turn them into strengths”.

 By using various marketing strategies, Liz moved on to write for the Environment Agency; promote some of the community programmes; showcase Groundwork BBOR successes on their website and produce marketing materials for the trust.

 Having spent nine months volunteering with Groundwork BBOR, Liz is now moving on to an internship with an advertising agency in Manchester City Centre where she hopes to garner more experience in the field of copywriting and build further on the skills she has learnt in her time at the Environmental Centre in Oldham. She fully believes that without the experience she has gained from being at Groundwork has allowed her new internship to transpire.

Mr Poole's Story


After the success of the partnership forged with Rochdale Boroughwide Housing, the Energyworks team looked to support those in need in other local areas. Fuel poverty is present across the borough area but with the help of the package offered by Energyworks, this can be dealt with effectively - greatly benefitting anyone who qualifies for the support on offer.

 Mr Poole and ‘Chris’ Law'

 Recently, in Middleton, a local octogenarian, Mr Poole, was given support and advice from the energyworks team to help reduce his fuel costs after his house was provided with external wall installation prior to our involvement.

 In order to support him with reducing his costs, a survey was done of the house which took only half an hour. Once the survey was conducted, energyworks were able to provide him with invaluable advice about reducing the cost of his central heating system and how to save on his electricity. These savings have had a huge positive impact on Mr Poole’s lifestyle.

 In what is now classed as ‘Chris’ Law’, (named after the team member who provided the advice) Mr Poole now ensures those living, and visiting, the property use the energy efficient methods he has been shown, citing Chris’ advice and advocating the energyworks package.

“My Dad had a survey completed by Chris and now lives by ‘Chris’ Law’. He will tell me to turn off the lights and to measure the amount of water I put in the kettle. I can now leave the house without worrying about my Dad scolding himself as he now makes his coffee for the day in his lovely new flask that he has been given in his pack. Thank you!”

Lee's Story

“I’ve had a scream since coming here. The staff are brilliant and make it easy to understand what you’re learning about.

They have been a massive help in getting me back into work.”

Lee, aged 51 and from Rochdale, had been a stay-at-home-father for a while. Prior to this, he had always worked since leaving school with no qualifications. He was finding it difficult to find work and was frustrated that after having a break from work it had become such a challenge to find a job. His confidence was at a low ebb and he needed a new focus.

He applied to Groundwork’s Kirkholt Millions project and quickly settled in on the 15 week programme, taking younger people under his wing and becoming a patriarchal role model.

Groundwork gave him the confidence and opportunity to complete the functional skills in English and Maths. Lee also breezed through the plastering, tiling and joinery elements of the course.

Before the end of the course, a position became available with the Green team. Lee was given advice about interview techniques, applied for the position and secured a six month contract. With his new-found confidence and motivation, Lee now wants to complete his six month contract and go further if possible by joining the NEAT Team.

More good news ensued for Lee: his girlfriend proposed on February 29th of this year and they plan to get married next year. For Lee, life has become more positive and fulfilling.


Martin's Story

“It’s a good place to go - the staff give you so much help and support, I would tell anyone to go onto Prince’s Trust.

Before starting on the Prince’s Trust Team programme, Martin, aged 20 and from Liverpool, was looking for paid employment in the warehouse industry. He had been asked to leave his parents’ house in Liverpool and decided to move up to Oldham. On occasions, he slept on a friend’s sofa; the rest of the time he slept on the streets.

He met a worker from Your Chance who supported him in finding accommodation at De Pauls, in Oldham. Feeling down, he felt life had dealt him a harsh hand.

He signed up to the 107 Prince’s Trust Team programme which focused on building key skills and experiencing a work placement in preparation for obtaining full-time employment.

Throughout the 12 week programme, Martin built up his confidence; improved his reading and writing skills and learnt new skills around communication and daily life. He also made new friends in the Oldham area.

With a new skills set under his belt and his new-found confidence, Martin has decided on a career change. Since completing the programme, he has decided to join the Army and submitted his application recently – something he feels very proud of.

Rachel's Story



"Without the Prince's Trust I would still be alone in my house and unable to step out of the front door. But, now I have the confidence and self-belief to take that step out of my door every morning so I can go and pursue my dreams and without Prince's Trust, I would never have been able to do that."

 Rachel signed up to the Prince’s Trust after spending three years with CAMHS. She had not been attending school due to being treated for first episode psychosis, depression, anxiety and an eating disorder (EDNOS). Owing to her mental illness, she had lost her friends and wasn’t leaving her house as she had no confidence or motivation; she felt life was not worth living because she had no future. For her, life consisted of the four walls of her bedroom.

 After being referred to Prince's Trust by her dad, Rachel had a meeting and agreed to join the twelve week programme.

 Having spent 10 weeks building skills and completing programme activities, Rachel took part in a three day Team Challenge at Heathbank– a centre that supports adults with a variety of disabilities, where she had already completed a work placement as part of the programme.

 Thanks to the 12 week programme - which ended with a final presentation - Rachel has gained her confidence back and feels like a completely different person. The big difference now is she feels capable of achieving anything.

 Having taken a step into the world of work, Rachel now has a place at Heathbank to volunteer from June 2016. She will partake in all the training the staff do, providing her with the chance to use Heathbank to do an NVQ.

 In October 2016, Rachel will start an access module with the Open University, entitled People, Work and Society. This module will give her an extra boost for when she starts her actual degree next year. Her plan after that is to get a job that allows her to help people and make a difference to their lives.


Matt's Story
Matt (not his real name), aged 15 and from Bolton, was not doing well at school. Not only was his attendance down, his teachers feared that he wouldn’t achieve the grades he was capable of. That’s where the intervention of Groundwork’s Youth Team stepped in.

Through the ESF funded NEET contract, Groundwork is able to provide additional support to young people aged 14 and above. Working in partnership with a number of schools, we are able to target those individuals most at risk of becoming classed as NEET.

Our Youth Team provided Matt with regular 1 to 1 support and organised a 12 week community project with 7 other young people. The group improved the community garden at Newbury Community Learning Centre, completing tasks including a general tidy up as well as preparing and preserving the fence.

Matt commented: “I have enjoyed my time at Groundwork. It’s been a great experience and I have made some new fantastic friends. It’s been a pleasure to work with [the NEET staff] as they have been fun to work with. In my time at Groundwork I have painted a fence and a shed and when we first ever started we did team building. Groundwork has helped me improve my confidence.”

Debbie, Pastoral Leader for year 10, said: “Matt has grown in confidence and will talk about the project. He has really enjoyed it and seems to be engaging with his peers much more in school. His attendance is 98% with no unauthorised [absence] compared with last year 86% with lots of unauthorised [absence], so attendance is excellent and Matt is trying really hard in school.”

Kay's Story
Kay, aged 44 and from Bury, recently benefited from Energyworks support as a result of a partnership with her housing provider. Kay contacted her housing provider and Citizens Advice Bureau to find out if there was any support available to help her out of fuel poverty.

“I was struggling to pay my bills and my gas and electric was sky high. I contacted [my housing provider] and CAB and they said they’d be able to help. Energyworks came in and helped me to switch energy supplier to the cheapest one. The adviser helped me change from pre-payment meter to monthly credit and get the Warmer Homes discount. I also got some new windows because the seals had burst, new radiators and radiator foils.

“My next step is to get the credit bills going and start paying monthly. I can now turn my heating off when it gets warm because my house now does get warm! [Energyworks] helped me loads and I really appreciate it. I would have been stuck in a place where I couldn’t have paid my energy bills but now I can afford it.”

Through the Energyworks support offered, Kay has made a £200 annual tariff saving as a result of switching from a pre-pay meter, saved £104 by exchanging her meter, received £140 Warm Home Discount and received an estimated £150 annual saving through the installation of energy efficiency measures.

Reece's Story
Reece, aged 21 and from Rochdale, had finished college but struggled to find a job so he started to look for other local opportunities that would boost his CV. He joined the Housing Refurbishment programme to develop his construction skills and gain valuable work experience.

The Housing Refurbishment programme is delivered by Groundwork in partnership with Rochdale Borough Council Strategic Housing and Rochdale Boroughwide Housing with support from the Department for Communities and Local Government. The scheme gives unemployed trainees a chance to boost their skills, experience and develop their CV whilst working together to renovate empty homes.

Reece gained 15 weeks of work experience completing plastering, painting, tiling, kitchen fitting and joinery at the property. Reece also completed training including manual handling, a plastering assessment and work towards his CSCS card. He has now landed a dream job at Rochdale contractors Jackson Jackson and Sons Ltd.

Reece commented: “I’m very grateful to Groundwork for the chance to do the Housing Refurbishment programme. It’s been educational and fun doing it. I’m now delighted to be doing my apprenticeship with Jackson Jackson and thank them for this opportunity.”

Denise's Story
Densie, aged 55 and from Bury, was unemployed and suffering from depression. She was referred to Groundwork by Jobcentre Plus as part of the Government’s Work Programme.

Due to her anxiety and depression Denise faced many barriers to attending sessions at Groundwork and finding employment. She was initially supported by one of our expert Employment Advisers over the phone and then encouraged to attend sessions at Groundwork with someone she knew. This then led to her attending Counselling sessions with the Healthy Minds team at Pennine Care and a Confidence & Employability course.

We helped and supported Denise at every stage, identifying her strengths, increasing her confidence and progressing at a speed she felt comfortable with. We were able to organise permitted work for 2 hours per day and this then led to Denise applying for work in her chosen profession.

“Before Groundwork I was sat at home doing nothing. I suffered with depression and I never went out. I missed sessions at first but then I met [the Groundwork adviser], started attending sessions regularly and never looked back. She phoned me often, arranged private meeting rooms to put me at ease and really helped me with my job search.

“[The adviser] suggested I wrote to 10 care homes to ask about bank work. She helped me research and write the letters and encouraged me to go for it. I am now employed at a care home in Walshaw and have become permanent staff after initially doing bank work.

“Without all the support and help from Groundwork I would still be in the place I was two years ago. I am now in work, off anti-depressants and moving forwards with my life.”
Emma's Story

23 year old Emma was unemployed and low on confidence before joining a Rochdale Prince’s Trust Team. Three months after successfully completing the Team programme Emma is now employed as a support worker and is planning for the future.

"Groundwork and the Team programme impacted on my life because they supported me when I needed it. Taking part in the Team programme helped me improve my confidence, I got to make new friends, some of whom I still keep in touch with. On the residential week I tried some new activities and overcame some of my fears. I did an excellent work placement and got an exemplary reference."

"I’ve recently gained employment as a support worker, and even though it is now 3 months after the Team programme ended I’m confident that this is a direct result of what I achieved on the Prince’s Trust Team at Groundwork. I am now working which mean’s I am able to learn to drive and I want to save up to buy a car which will increase my independence."

"I would recommend the Team programme to other people and friends because it helps you improve your life. You will gain a lot of skills, improve your C.V. and more importantly get you into a routine of getting up early which is vital to any employer."

Haroon's Story

Haroon, aged 23 and from Oldham, joined Groundwork’s Work Skills Job Club as he was finding it very hard for employers to take any interest and reply to his job applications. The 4-day Work Skills course includes job search techniques and positive behaviours, advice and support to help with improving CVs and help with preparing for interviews.

“It has given me a big edge on how to get employers interested in me. On the last day of my Work Skills course I was offered a job in a sports fashion warehouse in Rochdale and on the same day I was offered an interview at a marketing firm.”

“My plan now is to take the warehouse job and still go for the interview at the marketing firm as I would prefer a more challenging job in marketing or sales.”

“Groundwork has given me big knowledge on how to pursue a career. I would recommend Groundwork to anyone who is unemployed and needs help.”

Damien’s Story

Damien, aged 23 and from Oldham, was unemployed but wanted to do something positive so he signed up as a volunteer on the Groundwork website. A staff member at Groundwork called him soon after and explained the opportunities available to him. Damien decided the best route to take would be to join the Prince’s Trust Team programme.

During the Prince’s Trust programme Damien took part in many challenges alongside other young people. These included a week-long residential, 2-week work placement, community project and team challenge. Damien wishes to become a teacher and is using the skills and experience gained on the Team programme to help achieve this.

Damien added: “Groundwork is a place of learning, personal development and training. It helps you to recognise your personal qualities and how to exploit them for success. I would advise anyone who is struggling or unsure of where they are up to in life to let Groundwork put you back on track for a brighter future.”

Georgie’s Story

Georgie, aged 21 and from Failsworth, had just finished university and was worried about finding a job. She wanted some work experience so she was more employable. Georgie embarked on our 12-week VPA Programme where she was given the chance to gain some real project management experience in a variety of areas.

On the VPA programme Georgie worked on the Falinge Community Action Team, assisting the course leader in training a group of residents from Rochdale. The VPA scheme has really benefitted Georgie and after finishing the programme she successfully applied for a job at Manchester Magistrates Court.

Georgie added: “I have had a great experience at Groundwork and I have met some very nice people. The skills I have gained have helped me to find a job. Groundwork has been a very positive experience.”

Aaron’s Story

Aaron, aged 23 and from Royton, was unemployed, had little confidence and was struggling to find work. Groundwork offered him the chance to start on a Building Craft Occupations course to improve his skills in construction work and gain more confidence.

The course taught Aaron the basics in plastering, joinery, plumbing, decorating and brickwork. Since finishing the course Aaron put his new skills to good use and soon found full-time employment as a cavity wall insulator.

Aaron commented: “It has improved my confidence and knowledge of working with people in the building industry. It also improved my training in other trades I have never done before. The course was a confidence builder. It improves team work and improves hands on knowledge of the building trades.”

Nichola’s Story

Nichola, aged 25 and from Oldham was a stay at home mum and found it very difficult to get a job. She started the Groundwork Prince’s Trust Team programme to gain some experience and be more employable. Whilst on the course Nichola gained many qualifications and new skills, helping in her chosen career.

Since completing the course Nichola is now at college, has a weekend job and is continuing to volunteer at the pre-school where she completed her work placement on the Team programme.

Nichola added: “Groundwork inspired me to continue working towards becoming a nursery teacher. I now work in a pre-school and have started college. Groundwork is a worthwhile course to do. I gained many qualifications that helped me to get the job that I’ve always wanted. Thank-you Groundwork!”

Sonia's Story

Sonia, aged 38 and from Oldham, was out of work, bored and fed up with life. She started the Introduction to Volunteering course with Groundwork hoping to find a different career path and gain some experience by helping to improve her local community.

After getting a taste for Groundwork Sonia was keen to gain more voluntary experience and qualifications. She subsequently completed a Community Volunteering course and then enrollod on the 12-week VPA programme. Sonia is now looking for a role in a charity or work within local communities.

Sonia commented: “The [Introduction to Volunteering] course was inspiring, interesting and throughly enjoyable. I feel more inspired to do different things. It has opened up my mind to new possibillities and a whole new future. Groundwork has opened up a whole new field of interest and future employment opportunties.”

Brian’s Story

Brian, aged 57 and from Royton, was out of work for three and a half years, struggling to find a job. Groundwork gave him the opportunity to start a voluntary course to improve his construction skills and gain an accredited qualification.

Brian enrolled on the 12-week Building Craft Occupations course alongside other learners, to improve his chances of finding employment. After successfully completing the course Brian was keen to stay on as a volunteer and help other learners at Groundwork. A job vacancy arose at Groundwork for a Technician/Facilitator. Brian applied, got the job and he is now in full-time paid employment, supporting learners within our Vocational Training department.

Brian added: “I was just plodding along looking for a job and Groundwork asked me to do a voluntary course. I jumped at the chance to get out of the house and improve my CV. Groundwork has given me a job with pay, it's given me a sense of pride and its taken a lot of pressure off me financially. If your feeling there's nothing else in life, don't despair Groundwork is there. It has given me a new lease of life.”

Dawn’s Story

Dawn started with Groundwork Oldham & Rochdale on the Volunteering Works project. The aim of this project was to provide voluntary opportunities for local people to help them back into paid employment.

Dawn volunteered alongside one of our Education Officers, helping out with the planning and preparation of sessions and providing much needed extra help in the classroom at various local primary schools.

It was difficult for Dawn to juggle her volunteering role with finding childcare for her young daughter but she knew it would be beneficial in the end. We were delighted to hear that Dawn secured employment as a Classroom Assistant at Propps Hall Primary School.

Andrew’s Story

Andrew left Cardiff University in 1995 with an 2:1 Hons Degree in Environmental Engineering but found it very difficult to get work - the main barrier being the lack of any kind of practical experience. He spent 12 months selling suitcases and was getting very low. Andrew then saw the VPA advert and applied. A few weeks later he attended a selection day and was offered a position. He was Groundwork’s first Environmental Business Services (EBS) VPA.

“I spent 6 months supporting my boss - Todd Holden - to develop an EBS programme, undertaking environmental audits, providing training and information services to businesses. This work was really cutting edge in 1997! After 6 months I got a paid position with Northwest Water. However, I had the Groundwork bug by then and when a paid EBS Officer position was advertised at Oldham 6 months later I returned and spent 5 happy years working for the inspirational Robin Henshaw, first working and then later managing the EBS programme.”

“I left Oldham in 2003 to take up a role as Regional Manager at Groundwork NW where I worked for 7 years developing regional and national programmes including ENWORKS, Greening Greater Manchester, United Futures and Target: Wellbeing. In 2009 I joined Groundwork Manchester as Director of Development where I led the Trust’s expansion into Stockport and set up the social enterprise Blue Sky which is working to help tackle re-offending through employment. In 2011 I joined Groundwork Lancs West & Wigan as the Executive Director promoting the Groundwork vision to Wigan, Blackpool, Preston as well as expanding our territory to include St Helens, Knowsley Sefton and Liverpool.”

“Choosing to leave the Suitcase Company and travel 250 miles to work for free is the most important career decision I ever took - and will be forever grateful to Robin Henshaw, Todd Holden and all those people that inspired me so long ago.”

Joanne's Story

After completing her degree in Theatre and Performance, Joanne couldn’t wait to get out into the real world. She wanted to bring theatre and the performing arts into the community and found it extremely difficult to get a job at what she loved to do. Joanne decided to start the Volunteer Project Assistant (VPA) programme at Groundwork as it was offering one applicant the chance to spend half the placement time at Oldham Coliseum Theatre.

Joanne commented: “As well as meeting loads of like minded people and going out for the occasional curry, pint and a quiz and of course lots of litter picking, the placement also gave me the chance to learn how community projects were put together. It gave me the space to create my own projects (A Green Theatre Installation at Oldham Gallery being one of them) and it rebuilt my confidence, reminding me that I did have skills which could be applied to the real world."

“Most importantly the placement gave me the important work experience that employers were looking for. It helped me to understand community work and after 6 months I successfully applied for a job with a community arts organisation in Rochdale called Pride Media Association. My employer was really impressed that I had committed to a 6 months voluntary placement and was surprised at the level of responsibility that placement offered.”

"I stayed with Pride Media Association for almost 5 years, developing and helping to manage community arts projects. Alongside this I studied for a Masters degree in Applied Theatre and eventually began my own company, Tracing Steps Theatre and Dance Company with my best friend."

Nicola's Story

Nicola first joined us on placement as part of her BA Landscape Architecture course at Manchester Metropolitan University. After completing her course, Nicola volunteered with us for one day a week to keep involved in the profession and hone her landscape design skills.

Nicola added value to live projects with presentation quality images, 3D modelling, planting plans and much more. In addition, Nicola helped to develop a number of projects, working with our Communities team to provide design advice, sketch proposals and cost estimates.

As a volunteer, Nicola really focused herself and improved greatly. So much so that in her first job interview with a very well respected private practice, Nicola secured full-time employment. Congratulations and many thanks!

James' Story

James came to Groundwork Oldham & Rochdale as a recent graduate looking to gain real-life environmental experience. He embarked on our graduate volunteer programme - a 13 week voluntary placement scheme providing real project management experience.

James worked on the River Valley Futures project at Moston Brook in Failsworth. He supported a group of young volunteers and helped them to plan and organise monthly community events at the site. He also assisted in the planning and delivery of Groundwork’s annual Street Party in Higginshaw.

James volunteered for the full duration of v challenge and achieved all his goals. Soon after he finished the programme at Groundwork, James progressed to a job in the field he was looking for - working for the Forestry Commission in South Wales. Well done James!

Spencer's Story

Before Groundwork, Spencer was unemployed for 12 months and struggling to find any work. He joined our free Building Craft Occupations (BCO) course wanting to refresh his skills and gain a CSCS card. Spencer excelled at this course and as soon as he finished, was asked to come back as a volunteer to help other learners down in the basement (our dedicated indoor construction training area). After completing over 8 months as a Groundwork volunteer, Spencer secured full-time employment at a manufacturer of security doors in Littleborough.

“It has been a good experience being at Groundwork – learning new skills and then being given the opportunity to volunteer. The volunteering gave me knowledge of different skills that I could pass on to other BCO candidates on the course. It also gave me the opportunity to help the course tutors.”

“Now I have gained employment my time at Groundwork has come to an end. It has inspired me to keep learning new skills and help others that need it. I hope there will be an opportunity to work for Groundwork in the future. All the staff have been really friendly and supportive. Keep up the good work you are doing at Groundwork!”

Danielle's Story

Danielle, aged 16 and from Oldham, was bored, spent too much time in bed and was on the verge of being kicked out of her supported accommodation. She decided to join Groundwork’s Prince’s Trust Team programme as she realised she wanted to improve her confidence, meet new people and do something with her life. Danielle liked the sound of the Team programme and the benefits on offer.

After completing the 13-week Team programme Danielle has more confidence in doing and trying new things. She is not scared of talking to new people and now looks forward to meeting new people.

“The course stopped me being lazy and got me in to a good routine. I’m soon starting a YMCA foundation learning course before going to college in September doing Performing Arts. The Groundwork Prince’s Trust Team programme is really good as it helps you develop your key skills. It is a very friendly course – all the staff are dead nice and helpful and I would recommend the course to other young people.”